Reunion times—both high school and college—never fail to take me down the memory lane.
Due to an unexpected family situation, I was forced to miss my 20th high school reunion. However, thanks to the magic of social media and friends who were able to attend, I got a good idea of what I missed.
One thing that I noticed was that a former friend of mine from high school was still married to her high school sweetheart whom I also knew back in the day. I was sincerely happy for them.
Besides one other couple I knew from college, they were the only ones I knew who “made it” and were still together.
As someone fast approaching 40, many of my friends from high school and college are either divorcing or have divorced. I noticed this phenomenon about two or three years ago, but this year, seems to have been the year everyone is splitting up. While I know that it’s impossible to judge couple’s happiness by appearance, some of them really took me by surprise.
It was the same old cliche, “They seemed so happy,” “They looked so happy on social media,” followed by the inevitable question, “What happened?”
Recently, I reconnected with a friend from college who divorced a few years ago. They were both successful professional whose trips to Europe, cute kids and other achievements chronicled on social media were something I secretly envied.
As it turns out, their lives were anything but what they appeared.
I was both stunned and impressed by his candor as well as his confession that like many of us, he was looking for that “happily ever after” that many of us believe only happens by finding “the one” and never parting.
Sometimes that happens, but sometimes life has very different plans.
My friend and I marveled how as very naive 20-somethings, we thought we had it all figured out. Maybe it was a combination of youthful ignorance and arrogance and the fact that both of us had always succeeded academically, but 15 years later, neither of us had the sort of lives we not only thought we were going to live but, frankly, believed we deserved.
That isn’t to say that either of us thought our respective lives were bad. Rather, they were just not what we envisioned.
Still, we were both optimistic. As I pointed out, we were still relatively young and not even half way through our lives.
As he put it, each of us are ultimately authors of our own happily ever afters.
Maybe in the case of my high school friends, you will find your one early and it will turn out to be successful or perhaps, for others like myself, there are several “ones” at various stages in our lives.
Happily ever after may mean ending with someone for some and being alone for others. If my own experiences have taught me anything, there is no blueprint or one-size-fits-all for everyone.
As I approach my 40s, I feel that I am becoming a little less rigid and more forgiving—not just towards others but for myself. In fact, if I had to go back and do it again, I would completely ditch any plans and just see where life takes me.
I’ve noticed that when I am not focusing on trying to achieve happiness, I am more likely to find it. And that is especially true when it comes to my happily ever after.
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Wikimedia Commons